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SAG and AFTRA Praise Talent Agencies

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The presidents of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have thanked Hollywood's talent agents for their "steadfast support and understanding" during the unions' strike against the advertising industry, now in its 115th day.

In a letter to the unions' franchised agents, SAG president William Daniels and AFTRA president Shelby Scott wrote that "the self-sacrifice of our franchised agents should be noted and appreciated..."

The relationship between the unions and agents has been tested during the long work stoppage, with many talent agencies struggling to make ends meet. Some agencies have been accused of helping commercial producers find nonunion talent—a charge denied heatedly by the Association of Talent Agents.

ATA executive director Karen Stuart said recently that August is "crunch month" for many commercial talent agents, and agencies will have to "review their business strategies" if the strike is not resolved soon.

But the unions and the ad industry will not return to the bargaining table until Sept. 13, though the unions wanted to resume bargaining much earlier.

The conciliatory tone of the presidents' letter is a clear signal that the unions want agents to remain on their side during the long strike.

"The solidarity and support demonstrated by agents in these difficult times help performers in their struggle for a fair wage for the unique work they do," Daniels and Scott wrote. "Agents have stood side-by-side with their clients on the picket line. Agents have urged producers to sign the interim agreements, denied reinstatement for commercials currently in use and not proffered their clients to do struck work. Agents have helped educate the production companies that without an interim agreement, their excellent talent will not show up for auditions or work."

Agents have long supported the careers of their clients, the union presidents wrote, but "never has that support been more important than today."

"We would like to thank our loyal agents and the ATA for their support and continued efforts to end the strike fairly for all," Daniels and Scott wrote. "Together we will win this strike and share in the corporate wealth performers have helped create through their performances in radio and television commercials."

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